The Bilston System has a number of problems affecting the fish and wildlife populations. The most apparent are;
Stream channelization and the unnecessary removal of large woody debris that results in the loss of fish habitat complexity;
Undesirable flow dynamics in the watershed, due to increased development, associated land clearing and the infilling of wetlands, resulting in decreased water retention, flash flooding, stream bank erosion, creek siltation and general habitat loss;
Dewatering in the mainstem and some tributaries, due to both licensed and non-licensed stream water use, with resultant loss of summer rearing capacity;
Point and non-point pollution affecting water quality;
Elevated water temperatures and low dissolved oxygen levels due to removal of stream side vegetation affecting water quality;
Over fishing, that may contribute to reduced numbers of adult spawners;
Lack of appropriate land-use planning, development standards, inadequate regulation and bylaws to govern activities, shortcomings in bylaw and regulation enforcement, resulting in systemic decay of aquatic values.
The cumulative effect of these problems was disturbingly low numbers of trout in Bilston Creek. A primary measure of success will be the rate at which trout numbers can be restored and increased. These cutthroat trout are unique, known to grow to considerable size (30 - 40 cm) and historically supported a vigorous local recreational fishery. Our goal is to reestablish a healthy, self-sustaining population of these wild fish.
To meet this goal it is necessary to address a complex set of problems. The activities of the Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association are therefore concentrated in three major directions, namely, restoration, education, and protection.
Here is one of the problems we find. As part of our efforts to increase public awareness that this is a fish habitat, a sign was put up to mark the stream. Less than 3 days later we found that someone had purposely cut it down with a chainsaw. The sign was left laying where it fell as an obvious message that "this is a ditch" and not a stream.
|This photo was taken in the parking area on Sooke Highway #14 near to the Luxton Fairgrounds. This truck is only 15 feet from the stream. Tar can be seen leaking from the hose and fittings. The truck was unattended.
|Here is a naturally occuring problem common to many water courses. The bright orange-red streaks on the rocks are the result of iron rich water being exposed to air and light. A bacteria feeds on the iron creating the colour, and a dusty to spongy friable coating on the stream bottom and all objects there. In Bilston creek this material enters the stream in several locations, most noticably along the Sooke Highway about 1/2 a mile east of the intersection of Humpback road and at another point just upstream from the confluence of Bilston creek and Firehall creek near the intersection of Luxton and Lippincott roads. So far this does not seem to be toxic to the fish, but it does appear to reduce the amount and type of insect and other food organisms, as well as appearing very unsightly. The actual source of the iron is from iron rich rock being exposed as in this photo from blasting to widen the highway. At other locations from ground water leaching through iron rich sand and sediments and then into the stream carrying the iron with it.
If you live near a waterway you can affect the stream. Government rules and regulations are important but, as neighbours of the creek, there are things you can do to help preserve this special resource.
Water from storm drains, driveways, lawns, and outside decks can carry poisons into the creek.
Take extra care when using:
antifreeze disinfectants wood preservatives motor oil paint brake fluid slug bait
For proper disposal call:
C.R.D. Hotline (250) 360-3030
Animal wastes can cause great harm to water quality in short order. Please store them properly and well away from drainage paths.
Ensure your septic system is in good working order.
Erosion harms the landowner and the creek. Lost land becomes silt... water that is laden with sediment can harm the stream ecosystem.
The plants that grow along the creekside bind the soil, keeping the water clean and holding the banks in place. Trees and vegetation act like sponges, soaking up heavy rains and moderating floods. It's best to resist clearing near the stream. If land is already barren, then replant! Native species are preferred.
Storm water runoff from impervious surfaces, such as roofs and driveways, should not lead directly into waterways as this creates flash flows and flooding damage downstream.
Removal and/or dumping of any material in the creek area requires a permit, see your municipal office first.
Domestic animals should be kept out of the creek. Trampled banks are much more likely to erode and cause siltation when the water rises.
Remember, if you must make changes in or near the stream, you are obligated to contact the Ministry of Environment first. Here's the number:
Victoria Water Managment Branch:
Wish to report a problem such as spills or dumping?
Provincial Emergency Program: 1-800-663-3456
Conservation Officer: (250) 474-5544
For more information, or to get involved, contact:
Bilston Watershed Habitat Protection Association
c/o Kym Hill at (250) 474-7062 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian McKenzie (250) 478-2387 or email@example.com